Shaking the Foundations of Education
In 1925, at the age of seven, a young boy named Rolihlahla began attending a Wesleyan missionary school located not far from the eastern coast of South Africa. The first in his family to attend a formal school, this child was enrolled by his father, who “had the great respect for education that is often present in those who are uneducated.” In preparation for his first day, Rolihlahla acquired new clothes: in place of the customary blanket, his father took a pair of his own trousers, cut off the legs, and tied them around the boy’s waist with a string. According to the boy’s later recollections, “I must have been a comical sight, but I have never owned a suit I was prouder to wear than my father’s cut-off pants.” In addition to the change of clothing, however, entry into the Western school also brought a new name. As was becoming customary in South Africa under colonial rule, indigenous names were not used by Whites, “who were either unable or unwilling to pronounce an African name, and considered it uncivilized to have one.” On the first day, the teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave this child a new first name, which would, over the course of the next three-quarters of a century, become famous throughout the world: Nelson Mandela (Mandela 1995, pp. 6, 13–14).
KeywordsNational Identity Social Foundation Political Captive Educational Discourse Popular Pedagogy
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